Skip to main content

Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

See other formats

KARNAK NIGHTS                         227
farther on, a lonely visitor at the dead of night. The night always brings its own terrors with it, and always accentuates one's slightest dread, yet I had learned to love and accept these soft Egyptian nights which haunted me with their supernal loveliness. But here these mouldering temples of Karnak took on a half-sinister outline in the queer wan light, and I was conscious of an uneasy reaction to both the hour and the environment. Why was I thus affected?
I followed the ancient paved road which led to the northern ruins and straight to the exquisite little Temple of Ptah. 1 crossed the small pillared court and, having passed through another gateway, I penetrated the threshold of the sanctuary itself. A vivid shaft of moonlight lit up one of the strangest statues in this place, that of the goddess Sekhmet. She dwelt alone in this gloomy room, a forlorn figure of a woman with the head of a lioness. Her fierce, sullen face fitted well the role assigned to her in Egyptian mythology, that of a punitive destroyer of mankind. With what terror she must have inspired her victims, who could look for no mercy from her I
I sat down upon a granite plinth and watched the silvery rays dance upon the dilapidated walls. Somewhere, far off, there rose the faint howl of a prowling jackal As I sat, still and passive, the eerie sense of invisible company crept anew over my heart, chilling it with the fear which uncertainty always brings.
Did the ghosts of those proud-faced priests and their throngs of devout worshippers still haunt this ancient place and murmur their prayers to Ptah, he who held a symbolled sceptre of power and stability? Did the spirits of vanished priests and departed kings flit to and fro across their ancient haunts, like living shadows without substance?
I remembered involuntarily the curious story told me by a friend in Cairo, an English official in the service of the Egyptian Government, He had met a young man who was connected with the aristocracy, and had come out from England to Egypt for a few weeks as an ordinary tourist. He was a happy-go-lucky fellow with no interest beyond material things- When he got to Luxor, he went out one afternoon to Karnak, where he took a camera snap of the Great Hall in the Temple of Amen-Ra. After the negative was developed and printed, he was astonished to discover on it the figure of a tail Egyptian priest standing with his back against one of the pillars, his arms folded on his breast.